As 2013 drew to an end we battled with the lurgies, preparing for family festivities and took stock of the past year. It was uplifting to see all we had done, the fun we had in 2103.
I was slightly disappointed that we hadn’t done the Grand Adventure. Well, maybe this year!
2013 was really about getting back to our adventures taking it in baby steps. We ventured back into camping, testing 3 different styles of tents.
The three tents we have used over the last year were three very different offerings:
The Vango Eclipse 600
A 6 person airbeam tent we had the opportunity to trial during National camping and caravanning week. I was very much looking forward to trialling an airbeam tent. So much so that I volunteered to erect the tent on my own. It was EXHAUSTING!!! And took over half an hour. That is the time during which I had 3 children creating havoc on a campsite, because I was taking too long to set up the tent. And that’s not for the lack of trying.
However, what we did get for the effort (and what would be a £1000 price tag) was a HUGE tent. At one point we had 4 adults and 5 children staying in the tent and there was still space for 5 adult-sized chairs, a table and a kitchen set up. Size-wise it would serve a family very well on an extended holiday, giving ample space even in foul weather.
The sewn-in groundsheet was a lovely texture and really gave a luxurious feel. In my experience though, it’s size was one of the few positives it had going for it. It has niceties like organiser pockets , flexible sleeping compartments, hanging point for lanterns and electric cable management. I appreciated the privacy provided by the zip up curtains on the windows and the insect mesh on all doors would no doubt come in very handy to any mosquito or midge infested areas.
Otherwise I really didn’t like it: It was very cold at night and the moment the sun came out it was unbearably hot (outside temperature was a lovely 22C). I just couldn’t get the ventilation to function efficiently. The other gripe I had was the zips kept getting jammed, so much so that my 6 year old didn’t make it out in time to the loo because we couldn’t open the zip. 🙁
And the worst nightmare: packing it away. It took 3 goes and event then we couldn’t zip up its nice roller bag. (I know it takes time to learn the nuances of each tent and one time use may not be a fair evaluation of a tent, but I honestly would not like to try this tent again. Besides if we were to get a tent this size we would either need a bigger car or a trailer.)
Coleman Galileo 5
Our next tent was a Coleman Galileo 5, a traditional tunnel style family. We’ve had a chance to test this in all sorts of weather over the summer and autumn and it has stood up to gails and prolonged rain well.
This is a perfectly decent tent: a good size for a family of 5 for a long weekend; though we would struggle over a longer period if the weather was not good. The sewn-in ground sheet is not nearly as nice as that of the Vango, but serves it’s purpose and keeps the tent dry. Like the Vango, this tent gets very hot in full sun, however it was better at keeping the heat in at night. The Galileo also misses the insect meshes from the front door- so you need to consider alternative measures of keeping the bugs out if you are going camping by a river, lake or in Scotland with midges.
The literature states a set up time of 15 minutes. The quickest we’ve managed so far (with 2 of us…and it really does need 2 people to set up) is 22 minutes ( on soft ground, no wind or rain).
My bug hate though on this tent: the front door opens up, in theory, to be a nice porch supported by poles. However these poles are not supplied with the tent! Why? Especially when it is shown in marketing materials with the front canvas propped up with poles.
Otherwise the tent represents good value for money and is one you can’t really go wrong with if you are starting out family camping. It won’t wow you with its plethora of features, but will get you camping, maybe even touring. 😉
Quechua 2 Second III
For an overnight camp my family lent us their pop up tents. This was a very different proposition: Dadonthebrink slept in one with Hugo and Anglelina, Max and I slept in another. No standing room, but other benefits to boost.
The Quechua 2 second III pop up tent I slept in was a great surprise: it really does just pop up and is ready to settle in into in 2 seconds; it has a separate flysheet and sleeping compartment, that all pops up and packs away as one. It’s well-ventilated and had no condensation, despite being next a lake and the night getting a bit chilly. With pop up tents the issues, generally, come when trying to put them away: we tried and tried with no luck and then we read and followed the instructions. The instructions were actually very simple. It took a whole 2 minutes to pop the tent back into its small bag with the instructions. Lesson learnt: read and follow instructions. 😀